Organizational Self-Design in Worth-Oriented Domains

Organizational Self-Design in Worth-Oriented Domains

Sachin Kamboj (University of Delaware, USA) and Keith S. Decker (University of Delaware, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-256-5.ch022
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Abstract

This chapter presents an approach to organizational-self design (OSD), a method of designing organizations at run-time in which the agents are responsible for generating their own organizational structures. OSD is especially suitable for environments that are dynamic, albeit slowly changing. Such environments preclude the use of static, design-time generated, organizational structures, and yet contain certain characteristics and conditions that change slowly, if at all, and these characteristics can be harnessed for the purposes of creating stable organizational structures. This chapter extends the existing approaches to OSD by applying them to worth-oriented domains – that is, domains in which problems are represented using TÆMS based task structures. This chapter presents our OSD primitives and framework and discusses some interesting future lines of research.
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Introduction

Multiagent systems are increasingly being used to solve a wide variety of problems in a range of applications such as distributed sensing, information retrieval, workflow and business process management, air traffic control and spacecraft control, amongst others. Each of these systems has to be designed at two levels: the micro-architecture level, which involves the design of the individual agents, and the macro-architecture level, which involves the design of organizational and social aspects of the system. In this book, we are primarily concerned with the macro-architectural, organizational design of the multiagent system.

At the organizational level, the multiagent designer is primarily concerned with issues such as the number of agents needed to solve the problem, the task structure (i.e. the breakup of the problem into subgoals), the task and resource assignments to the individual agents and the coordination mechanisms to be used. These issues can be resolved by choosing an organizational structure and by instantiating that structure with actual agents. The organizational structure consists of roles that the agents play and the manner in which they interact with other agents in the system. The instantiation consists of selecting the number of agents needed in the system and the assignment of roles and resources to the individual agents.

The organizational structure employed directly influences the effectiveness of the organization in solving the problem at hand, the resources needed by the agents and the cost of coordinating the activities of the individual agents. Hence, the organizational design is a very important part of the multiagent system design. However, there are few good rules and formal mechanisms for designing effective organizations for computational agents that are general enough for a wide range of agent systems. For example, consider the question of the number of agents needed in the system. If too few agents are available, the system will be overloaded and will not be able to perform optimally. If too many agents are used, resources may be wasted and contention for the limited resources amongst the agents will increase.

The macro-architectural design is further complicated by the fact that there is no best way to organize and all ways of organizing are not equally effective (Carley and Gasser, 1999). Instead, the optimal organizational structure depends both on the problem at hand and the environmental conditions under which the problem needs to be solved. In some cases, the environmental conditions may not be known a priori, at design time, in which case the multiagent designer does not know how to come up with the suitable organizational structure. In other cases, the environmental conditions may change requiring a redesign of the agents’ macro-architecture. Hence, it is not obvious that a static design-time approach to an organizational structure is feasible in a significant number of cases. At the opposite end of the spectrum, systems may be designed to create a new, bespoke organizational structure for every problem instance. The most popular example of such a one-off task allocation approach is the Contract Net protocol (Smith and Davis (1978)). Such an approach brings with it a different set of inefficiencies and belies the fact that while many real environments have dynamic components, there are also commonalities in the structure of problem instances that can be taken advantage of through proper organizational structuring.

Organizational Self-Design (OSD) (Corkill and Lesser, 1983; Ishida et al., 1992) has been proposed as an approach to designing organizations at run-time in which the agents are responsible for generating their own organizational structures. We believe that OSD is especially suited to the above scenario in which the environment is semi-dynamic as the agents can adapt to changes in the task structures and environmental conditions, while still being able to generate relatively stable organizational structures that exploit the common characteristics across problem instances.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Teamplan Petri Net: A Petri net representing the plan of a team.

Team: A set of agents that are put together as a necessary structure to pool skills and resources in order to satisfy the goals of a mission through collaboration.

Hierarchical Teamplan: A hierarchical Petri net featuring the different subteams within the team. As the marking of the hierarchical teamplan evolves, the dynamics of the subteams is highlighted.

Petri Net: (P, T, F, B): A bipartite graph with two types of nodes: P is a finite set of places and T is a finite set of transitions. Arcs are directed and represent the forward incidence function F: PT IN and the backward incidence function B: P T IN respectively. An interpreted Petri net is such that conditions and events are associated with places and transitions. When the conditions corresponding to some places are satisfied, tokens are assigned to those places and the net is said to be marked. The evolution of tokens within the net follows transition firing rules. Petri nets allow sequencing, parallelism and synchronization to be easily represented.

Local Teamplan Repair: Aims at repairing the plan of the team as locally as possible.

Complete Chapter List

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Table of Contents
Foreword
Liz Sonenberg
Preface
Virginia Dignum
Acknowledgment
Virginia Dignum
Chapter 1
Virgina Dignum
Agent Organization can be understood from two perspectives: organization as a process and organization as an entity. That is, organization is... Sample PDF
The Role of Organization in Agent Systems
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Chapter 2
Luciano R. Coutinho, Jaime S. Sichman, Olivier Boissier
In this chapter, we discuss the concepts of agent organization, organizational model, and review some existing organizational models. Before the... Sample PDF
Modelling Dimensions for Agent Organizations
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Chapter 3
Jacques Ferber, Tiberiu Stratulat, John Tranier
In this chapter, we stress the importance of thinking a MAS in all its aspects (agents, environment, interactions, organizations, and institutions)... Sample PDF
Towards an Integral Approach of Organizations in Multi-Agent Systems
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Chapter 4
Scott A. DeLoach
This chapter introduces a suite of technologies for building complex, adaptive systems. It is based in the multi-agent systems paradigm and uses the... Sample PDF
OMACS: A Framework for Adaptive, Complex Systems
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Chapter 5
Christopher Cheong, Michael Winikoff
Although intelligent agents individually exhibit a number of characteristics, including social ability, flexibility, and robustness, which make them... Sample PDF
Hermes: Designing Flexible and Robust Agent Interactions
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Chapter 6
Viara Popova, Alexei Sharpanskykh
This chapter introduces a formal framework for modeling and analysis of organizations. It allows representing and reasoning about all important... Sample PDF
A Formal Framework for Organization Modeling and Analysis
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Chapter 7
Maksim Tsvetovat
Agent-based approaches provide an invaluable tool for building decentralized, distributed architectures and tying together sets of disparate... Sample PDF
Describing Agent Societies: A Declarative Semantics
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Chapter 8
Davide Grossi, Frank Dignum
In this chapter we investigate how organizations can be represented as graphs endowed with formal semantics. We distinguish different dimensions of... Sample PDF
Structural Aspects of Organizations
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Chapter 9
Virgina Dignum, Frank Dignum
Organization concepts and models are increasingly being adopted for the design and specification of multi-agent systems. Agent organizations can be... Sample PDF
A Logic for Agent Organizations
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Chapter 10
Cristiano Castelfranchi
This chapter presents organizations as a macro-micro notion and device; they presuppose autonomous proactive entities (agents) playing the... Sample PDF
Grounding Organizations in the Minds of the Agents
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Chapter 11
Paolo Torroni, Pinar Yolum, Munindar P. Singh, Marco Alberti, Federico Chesani, Marco Gavanelli, Evelina Lamma, Paola Mello
Organizational models often rely on two assumptions: openness and heterogeneity. This is, for instance, the case with organizations consisting of... Sample PDF
Modelling Interactions via Commitments and Expectations
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Chapter 12
Gita Sukthankar, Katia Sycara, Joseph A. Giampapa, Christopher Burnett
This chapter discusses the problem of agent aiding of ad-hoc, decentralized human teams so as to improve team performance on time-stressed group... Sample PDF
Communications for Agent-Based Human Team Support
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Chapter 13
Bob van der Vecht, Frank Dignum, John-Jules Ch. Meyer
This chapter discusses how autonomous agents can adopt organizational rules into their reasoning process. Agents in an organization need to... Sample PDF
Autonomous Agents Adopting Organizational Rules
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Chapter 14
Nicoletta Fornara, Marco Colombetti
The specification of open interaction systems is widely recognized to be a crucial issue, which involves the problem of finding a standard way of... Sample PDF
Specifying Artificial Institutions in the Event Calculus
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Chapter 15
Francesco Viganò, Marco Colombetti
Institutions have been proposed to explicitly represent norms in open multi-agent systems, where agents may not follow them and which therefore... Sample PDF
Verifying Organizations Regulated by Institutions
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Chapter 16
Mehdi Dastani, Nick A.M. Tinnemeier, John-Jules Ch. Meyer
Multi-agent systems are viewed as consisting of individual agents whose behaviors are regulated by an organizational artifact. This chapter presents... Sample PDF
A Programming Language for Normative Multi-Agent Systems
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Chapter 17
Antônio Carlos da Rocha Costa, Graçaliz Pereira Dimuro
This chapter presents the Population-Organization model, a formal tool for studying the organization of open multi-agent systems and its functional... Sample PDF
A Minimal Dynamical MAS Organization Model
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Chapter 18
Shaheen Fatima, Michael Wooldridge
This chapter presents an adaptive organizational policy for multi-agent systems called TRACE. TRACE allows a collection of multi-agent organizations... Sample PDF
A Framework for Dynamic Agent Organizations
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Chapter 19
Alexander Artikis, Dimosthenis Kaponis, Jeremy Pitt
We have been developing a framework for executable specification of norm-governed multi-agent systems. In this framework, specification is a... Sample PDF
Dynamic Specifications for Norm-Governed Systems
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Chapter 20
Marco Lamieri, Diana Mangalagiu
In this chapter we present a model of organization aimed to understand the effect of formal and informal structures on the organization’s... Sample PDF
Interactions Between Formal and Informal Organizational Networks
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Chapter 21
Steven Okamoto, Katia Sycara, Paul Scerri
Intelligent software personal assistants are an active research area with the potential to revolutionize the way that human organizations operate... Sample PDF
Personal Assistants for Human Organizations
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Chapter 22
Sachin Kamboj, Keith S. Decker
This chapter presents an approach to organizational-self design (OSD), a method of designing organizations at run-time in which the agents are... Sample PDF
Organizational Self-Design in Worth-Oriented Domains
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Chapter 23
Olivier Bonnet-Torrès, Catherine Tessier
This chapter focuses on a Petri Net-based model for team organization and monitoring. The applications considered are missions performed by several... Sample PDF
A Formal Petri Net Based Model for Team Monitoring
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About the Contributors